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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 April 2020 (Corona bond : On Eurozone COVID-19 rescue package (The Hindu))



Corona bond : On Eurozone COVID-19 rescue package (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International 
Prelims level: Corona Bond
Mains level: Requirement of corona bond for revival of eurozone 

Context:

  • Deliberations on the €540-billion emergency rescue package that Eurozone Finance Ministers agreed to underscore the difficult road ahead to chart the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. 
  • They also decided to open an emergency credit line in a fortnight, raise the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank and back the European Commission’s €100-billion unemployment insurance scheme. 

Expand its asset purchase programme:

  • The European Central Bank in March decided to expand its asset purchase programme by €750-billion over the next nine months.It took to save the single currency. 
  • But the current formula has stoked controversy, like during the economic meltdown, over burden-sharing between the richer members in the north and the poorer states in the south. 

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Opposed demands: 

  • The Netherlands initially opposed demands from Italy.
  • That because, the country worst affected by the virus outbreak, that the pandemic credit to be issued by the European Stability Mechanism be stripped of any conditionalities. 
  • Rome’s reasoning that the public health emergency was universal and symmetrical may have influenced the final deal, which allows governments borrowing from the bailout fund to spend up to 2% of GDP on direct and indirect costs of the pandemic without strings attached. 

Issuance of the Corona Bond:

  • France, Italy and Spain, the bloc’s three largest economies, with six other members in the euro area wrote in late March to the European Council President, renewing calls for joint issuance of Eurobonds, now dubbed corona bonds. 
  • The idea of mutual issuance of debt has drawn only a lukewarm response from Berlin, Amsterdam and the bloc’s other members. 
  • The cracks have appeared in the Netherlands’ ruling coalition over the government’s orthodox fiscal stance, where the opposition Labour and Green parties already advocate Eurobonds. 

Way forward: 

  • With the Eurozone’s three largest economies after Germany throwing their weight behind the new financial instrument, it may not be long before the bloc’s fiscal hawks rethink their stance. 
  • The economic and political consequences of failure on this count would hamper the post-pandemic recovery, and could affect European solidarity. 
  • European leaders would do well to address this fact when they formulate an economic recovery after the crisis.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 April 2020 (A narrowing window : On extension of lockdown (The Hindu))



A narrowing window : On extension of lockdown (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Governance 
Prelims level: Confirmatory test
Mains level: Implications of the extensions of the lockdown 

Context:

  • The Centre has accepted the view of several States to extend the national lockdown for the novel coronavirus until May 3. 

Background:

  • The decision provides comfort and continuity to those in charge of containing the pandemic, but it is a small window within which an orderly exit must be planned. 
  • While announcing the extension, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of incentivising areas that avert a spike in cases — over 10,000 nationally — through rigorous enforcement of the restrictions. 
  • These areas are to be allowed limited exemptions in activity after April 20, once they pass the ‘litmus test’ and are not at risk of becoming hotspots. 

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Need affordable confirmatory test:

  • Such a scheme naturally presumes that everyone can get a free or highly affordable confirmatory test for viral infection or recovery, which could place them in a green territory. 
  • Again, this has to be aligned with well-recognised protocols on healthy behaviour to stop new infections.

Fill the gaps:

  • The Centre’s lockdown is the most rigorous globally, but it has witnessed severe gaps in implementation. 
  • The Home Ministry’s original 21-day order and subsequent enabling amendments on farming had clear clauses, many States did not abide by them. 
  • The Union Home Secretary has had to restate the order’s provisions allowing inter- and intra-State movement of goods vehicles. 
  • Active follow-up with State governments and clear instructions to enforcement agencies are necessary to help the public adhere to a curfew. 

Intentions translate into results:

  • The Prime Minister, who has affirmed the need to make full use of the rabi harvest, must ensure that intentions translate into results, and produce reaches the market. 
  • Failed communication — States are partly responsible — has resulted in distressing instances of arbitrary and often violent policing.
  • Further extensions of a lockdown appear less and less feasible, as pressure builds up in an economy rendered moribund by the coronavirus. 

Impact on migrant workers: 

  • Millions of workers are already dependent on meagre income substitution measures and food donations, and many face escalating private debt. 
  • The Finance Ministry’s welfare schemes need to be reviewed, and enhanced relief provided to all workers rendered unemployed through funds infusion and provision of food for at least six months. 
  • Those who have lost jobs, and senior citizens, should be able to enrol in the PDS online immediately. 
  • A gradual reopening of activity after May 3, going beyond essential services will require classification of infection risk for various groups, such as school and college students, teachers, and workers. 

Conclusion: 

  • The reality of COVID-19 is that there cannot be a return to normal overnight, and governments must plan for a sequential restoration of activity. 
  • The effort should be to enable the workforce, ensuring its health and safety.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 April 2020 (Optimal delivery or mere optics in Bodo peace deal? (Indian Express))



Optimal delivery or mere optics in Bodo peace deal? (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3: Security 
Prelims level: Bodo peace deal
Mains level: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism

Context:

  • The Bodo peace deal poses tricky questions for India in general and far-eastern India in particular. 
  • The deal was announced on 27 January in New Delhi in an attempt to bring closure to a conflict in the homelands of the Bodo people—or Boro, as they call themselves—in Assam. 
  • A formal surrender-and-integrate ceremony is intended for later this week.

Background:

  • Four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), along with an influential Bodo students’ organization and a Bodo civilian pressure group, signed the peace agreement with the central and Assam governments. 
  • Among other concessions, the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts, the name given to Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri, the four contiguous districts bordering Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, will now be known as Bodoland Territorial Region.

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Major challenges towards uprotted Bodo rebellion:

  • Indeed, it could also affect the ongoing Naga peace process, leading Naga rebels to demand territorial and administrative autonomy in Naga homelands in Manipur, which will trigger a firestorm of politics, and ethnic tension between the Nagas and the Meitei, the largest ethnic group in Manipur whose language, culture and history dominate the state.
  • There is already an inherent vulnerability to the Bodo peace deal even without the overhang of ceding territory. 
  • This is rooted in the birth of the Bodo rebellion, which began in the 1980s not on account of slights from India, but administrative and development apathy of the state of Assam, and a feeling that Bodo, the people, the language, the identity, were subsumed by the Assamese and migrants. 
  • The initial demand for Bodoland, which grew out of a students’ movement (in much the same way, ironically, as a movement led by students in Assam that later birthed armed rebellion by the United Liberation Front of Asom), came even earlier, in the early 1970s.

Way ahead:

  • This vulnerability extends to other parts of Assam and far-eastern India and indeed any geography in India that either has active conflict, or has neutralized conflict with military or policing dominance and now hopes to seed positivity with governance and development. 
  • How much independence will Bodoland Territorial Council, which is now nominally responsible for administration and development, and which has purse-strings and political-strings tied to Dispur, Assam’s capital, be accorded?
  • The Kokrajhar-based council has elections due for its next five-year term. Elections were last held in April 2015. 
  • The Bodoland People’s Front, the civilian avatar of the Bodoland Liberation Tigers that signed a peace deal in 2003, a deal which led to both the birth of the council and continuing rebellion by factions of NDFB, is in majority in the council. 

Conclusion:

  • True autonomy, true peace, and true development are always worth more than the paper on which they are promised.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 April 2020 (Our expectations could mutate in response to the coronavirus (The Hindu))



Our expectations could mutate in response to the coronavirus (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2: Health 
Prelims level: Novel Coronaviruses
Mains level: Viral outbreak worldwide due to manmade disasters 

Context:

  • In December 2019, an outbreak of viral pneumonia of unknown etiology emerged in Wuhan, a city in the central Chinese province of Hubei. 
  • A few weeks later, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese health authorities announced the discovery of a novel coronavirus, known now as 2019-nCoV, as being responsible for the pneumonia.

Vulnerability:

  • The outbreak led to an unprecedented escalation and an equally unprecedented response. 
  • The two most important questions asked in a fast-evolving pandemic of this nature are: 
  • How deadly is the disease, and; 
  • Can it be contained? 

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Measures taken by the countries: 

  • The attempt at containment started late, but has never been attempted in the fashion that China has gone about it. 
  • Belatedly, on 23 January, China locked down Wuhan and 12 other cities, quarantining 52 million people in one sweeping action. 
  • This is the first known case in modern history of any country locking down an entire large city. Confirmed cases have since been reported from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia and the US. 
  • India reported its first case from Kerala of a medical student from Wuhan University, followed by two more. 
  • Singapore and the US have now banned foreign nationals who have recently been in China from entering the country. 
  • Russia, Canada, the UK and India have begun evacuating citizens from Hubei province.

Outbreak epidemic in the past:

  • The two outbreaks in recent memory that can shed light on the effectiveness of containment are the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which spread from China and was contained in nine months, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, which began in Mexico and spread globally. 
  • The case fatality for the H1N1 flu eventually turned out to be 0.1% and for SARS, 10%. 
  • The one distinguishing feature of the new coronavirus appears to be that it can be transmitted even when patients are asymptomatic, making detection of febrile cases at checkpoints an inadequate method of containment.

Novel Coronaviruses:

  • Coronaviruses (CoVs) are characterized by club-like spikes that project from their surface, an unusually large RNA genome and a unique replication strategy.
  • CoVs cause a variety of diseases in mammals and birds, ranging from enteritis in hoofed animals to potentially lethal human respiratory infections. 
  • The 2019-nCov genome was sequenced in China. 
  • It suggests that the original host of this coronavirus was a bat reservoir, though it is unclear whether there was an intermediate host. 
  • The uniformity of the sequenced genome suggests that the virus has entered human hosts very recently. Chinese health authorities were the first to post the full genome of the 2019-nCoV in public international databases. 
  • Subsequently, several other countries, including the US and France, have sequenced the RNA of the 2019-nCoV as well. 
  • These sequences and their similarity to the initial samples from China suggest a single, recent emergence from an animal reservoir.

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Challenges to India’s health system:

  • For India, this global health emergency should serve as an eye-opener. Only time will tell if the lockdown of Wuhan was an effective or draconian measure. 
  • If it turns out to be a useful tool to prevent the spread of a deadly virus, India will need to develop the framework and capacity to implement such a drastic measure. 
  • Our municipalities are hopelessly under-equipped to implement strict isolation and containment strategies. 
  • We will need to develop the capacity to build large facilities for housing patients in isolation wards. 
  • This will require India to accelerate the use of construction methods like pre-cast technology.
  • The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been proactive in updating its protocol related to the 2019-nCov and has clear instructions for reporting and assay preparation. 
  • Samples in India need to be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. 
  • While the public health and epidemic escalation framework appears capable of handling a small number of cases well, it is not clear how it will stand up to large number of cases in a specific geographic region.

Way ahead:

  • Even though there is some criticism of China for having initially reacted slowly, once the Chinese authorities began to move in January, they have proceeded with dramatic purpose and tremendous speed.
  • In some ways, China is setting the standard for a public health response that may become a necessary way of life in the 21st century. 
  • India must use this as a guidepost to greater preparedness.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 April 2020 (Govt yet to shed ‘charity approach’ towards persons with disabilities (The Hindu))



Govt yet to shed ‘charity approach’ towards persons with disabilities (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2: Social Justice 
Prelims level: Accessible India Campaign
Mains level: Welfare schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society 

Context:

  • The aspirations of persons with disabilities in Union Budget 2020 were once again shattered with the Finance Minister announcing a meagre amount of Rs 9500 crore for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. 
  • The charity approach toward persons with disabilities can be still seen with them featuring under the care group of the development agenda and not under the aspirational group. 
  • This in itself sets persons with disabilities a step backwards in the line of inclusion.

Background:

  • The official documents still continue to refer to the 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act for detailing their statutory obligations concerning persons with disabilities. 
  • The faulty policy-making blatantly ignores the newly enacted Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and diverges from the social approach towards disability adopted under the new Act. 

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What is the Accessible India Campaign?

  • The Accessible India Campaign (AIC) which is one of the flagship programmes for accessibility does not find any mention in the Budget. 
  • Although the AIC was successful more on the level of creating a noise around accessibility, its vision was not translated on the ground due to lack of accountability framework and transparency. 
  • While hopes were pinned on its better implementation, lack of a financial framework has made it defunct.

Key concern:

  • India has the largest concentration of persons with disabilities who face multiple vulnerabilities and deprivations as the majority population continue to live in poverty. 
  • Accounting for the additional costs of disability increases poverty at both the extensive and intensive margin as the poverty rate amongst households with disabled member’s increases from 18 per cent to 34 per cent. 
  • Poor households with disabled members fall seven per cent below the poverty line on average when the cost of disability is ignored. Accounting for the same can reduce this to three per cent. 
  • Accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication is important in enabling persons with disabilities to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. 
  • Research and promotion of universal design in products and services is important to ensure accessibility requirements of persons with disabilities. 
  • And the budget document reveals that no allocation of funds has been made for research on disability-related technology and products and neither for establishment of colleges for hearing impaired. 

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Proper allocation of funds and simplifying tax benefits:

  • Proper funds should be allocated for the implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. 
  • GST should be completely removed on goods used by persons with disabilities as it imposes high cost on products. 
  • The income tax ceiling for people with disabilities and those with dependents with disabilities should be increased to Rs 5 lakh. 
  • Increase in 80U exemption from Rs 75,000 for people with less than 75% disabilities and Rs 1,25,000 for people with over 75% disabilities to Rs 1,50,000 and Rs 3,00,000 respectively. 
  • Increase in deduction on 80D from Rs 50,000 per dependent to Rs 1,00,000 per dependent. 
  • A database of taxpayers availing 80U deductions must be maintained. This will throw light on the number of taxpayers who have a Disability. 
  • A deduction of up to Rs 40,000 is allowed for the treatment of specified ailments such as thalassemia. This should be increased to the actual expenses or at least Rs 1 lakh (For example, a thalassemia major patient can spend up to Rs 1-2 Lakh pa). 
  • The list must be updated to align with the RPWD Act and ailments such as multiple sclerosis must be also recognised for such exemptions.

Conclusion:

  • ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ can only be a reality when the government realises that “sab” includes people with different disabilities at different stages of their lives and their ‘vikas’ becomes imperative to the overall health of the Indian economy.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 April 2020 (What Brexit means for the EU and its partners (Mint))



What Brexit means for the EU and its partners (Mint)



Mains Paper 2: International 
Prelims level: Brexit
Mains level: Various international organizations and their aftermath challenges disputes 

Context:

  • On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. 

A structured exit:

  • This is largely thanks to the Withdrawal Agreement that we negotiated with the U.K., which enabled us to secure “an orderly Brexit”. 
  • One that, at least for now, minimises disruption for our citizens, businesses, public administrations, as well as for our international partners.
  • Under this agreement, the EU and the U.K. agreed on a transition period, until the end of 2020 at least, during which the U.K. will continue to participate in the EU’s Customs Union and in the Single Market, and to apply EU law, even if it is no longer a Member State. 

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Element of continuity:

  • By leaving the Union, the U.K. automatically, mechanically, legally, leaves hundreds of international agreements concluded by or on behalf of the Union, to the benefit of its Member States, on topics as different as trade, aviation, fisheries or civil nuclear cooperation. 
  • We now have to build a new partnership between the EU and the U.K. 
  • That work will start in a few weeks as soon as the EU 27 Member States have approved the negotiating mandate proposed by the European Commission.
  • To setting out our terms and ambitions for achieving the closest possible partnership with a country which will remain our ally, our partner and our friend. 

Shared and deep links:

  • The EU and the U.K. are bound by history, by geography, culture, shared values and principles and a strong belief in rules-based multilateralism. 
  • Our future partnership will reflect these links and shared beliefs. 
  • We want to go well beyond trade and keep working together on security and defence, areas where the U.K. has experiences and assets that are best used as part of a common effort. 
  • In a world of big challenges and change, of turmoil and transition, we must consult each other and cooperate, bilaterally and in key regional and global fora, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the G20. 

Challenges ahead:

  • It is perhaps a cliché but the basic truth is that today’s global challenges — from climate change, to cybercrime, terrorism or inequality — require collective responses. 
  • The more the U.K. is able to work in lockstep with the EU and together with partners around the world, the greater our chances of addressing these challenges effectively.
  • At the very core of the EU project is the idea that we are stronger together; that pooling our resources and initiatives is the best way of achieving common goals. 
  • Brexit does not change this, and we will continue to take this project forward as 27.
  • Together, the 27 Member States will continue to form a single market of 450 million citizens and more than 20 million businesses. 

Conclusion:

  • The European Union will continue to be a partner you can trust. 
  • A steadfast defender of rules-based multilateralism, working with our partners to make the world more secure and fair.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 April 2020 (On shortage of doctors (Mint))



On shortage of doctors (Mint)



Mains Paper 2: Health 
Prelims level: Not much 
Mains level: Key challenges for the government to implement PPP model in healthcare system

Context:

  • Centre pushes to attach medical colleges to existing district hospitals in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, to ostensibly address the shortage of doctors in the country.

Background:

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Union Budget speech, introduced the proposal and stated that those States that fully allow the facilities of the hospital to the medical college and wish to provide land at a concession would be eligible for viability gap funding. 

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Key challenges for the government to implement PPP model:

  • It argues that it is practically not possible for Central and State governments to bridge the gaps in medical education with their limited resources and finances, necessitating the formation of a PPP model, “combining the strengths of both sectors”. 
  • This would augment the number of medical seats available and moderate the costs of medical education. 
  • Experts have argued that the NITI Aayog has not given sufficient play to the role of the district hospital as the pivot of primary health care in every State. 
  • Allowing private parties to “operate and maintain the district hospital and provide healthcare services” could seriously dent public health services. 
  • It is problematic that the NITI Aayog envisages the creation of “free” patients versus others, because this will create a new category of have-nots. 
  • A working draft of the concessionaire agreement indicates that the private firm “can demand, collect and appropriate hospital charges from patients”. 
  • There is understandable opposition to the scheme in States such as Tamil Nadu that have a robust public health-care system, and a medical college in nearly every district. 
  • These States are naturally loath to turning over a key unit in their health-care network, which is running reasonably efficiently, to the private sector motivated by profit rather than public interest.

Way ahead:

  • Ultimately, eternal vigil will be the price of going for this new mode. 
  • Creating quality medical professionals for the country should definitely be on any government’s to-do list, destabilising people’s access to affordable public health services, will be disastrous. 
  • Viability gap funding is provided for projects that the government does not find commercially viable because of long gestation periods, and relatively minor revenue flows, and involves PPP, but this instant situation calls for pause: Health fits square in the State’s welfare role. 
  • The government must consider raising health-care spending beyond the usual under 2% of GDP, and ensure more resources are available to provide free, quality health care to all. 

Conclusion:

  • It does stay on its path of giving the private sector some control over district hospitals, it will do well to be wary of the camel in the tent.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 14 April 2020 (Ambedkar and the Poona Pact (The Hindu))



Ambedkar and the Poona Pact (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:Poona Pact 
Mains level:Role of Poona pact by making of Indian Constitution 

Context:

  • In late September 1932, B.R. Ambedkar negotiated the Poona Pact with Mahatma Gandhi. The background to the Poona Pact was the Communal Award of August 1932, which, among other things, reserved 71 seats in the central legislature for the depressed classes. 
  • Gandhi, who was opposed to the Communal Award, saw it as a British attempt to split Hindus, and began a fast unto death to have it repealed.

Fair representation:

  • In a settlement negotiated with Gandhi, Ambedkar agreed for depressed class candidates to be elected by a joint electorate. However, on his insistence, slightly over twice as many seats (147) were reserved for the depressed classes in the legislature than what had been allotted under the Communal Award. 
  • In addition, the Poona Pact assured a fair representation of the depressed classes in the public services while earmarking a portion of the educational grant for their uplift.
  • The Poona Pact was an emphatic acceptance by upper-class Hindus that the depressed classes constituted the most discriminated sections of Hindu society. 
  • It was also conceded that something concrete had to be done to give them a political voice as well as a leg-up to lift them from a backwardness they could not otherwise overcome.

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Signing Poona pact:

  • Perry Anderson and Arundhati Roy argued that Gandhi through his fast coerced Ambedkar into the Poona Pact. 
  • Ambedkar, however, was hardly the person to bend to someone else’s will. As he observed in a talk years later, he was clear he would not “tolerate anyone on whose will and consent settlement depends, to stand on dignity and play the Grand Moghul.”
  • It is also highly unlikely that an erudite and sharp person like Ambedkar would not have weighed the consequences of not signing the Poona Pact. 
  • It would also not have been lost on him that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, with the Muslims of India strongly backing him, was watching and waiting to take advantage of the evolving situation.

Positive outcomes:

  • The Poona Pact had several positive outcomes for Ambedkar. It emphatically sealed his leadership of the depressed classes across India. He made the entire country, and not just the Congress Party, morally responsible for the uplift of the depressed classes. 
  • Most of all he succeeded in making the depressed classes a formidable political force for the first time in history.
  • As a practical man Ambedkar was not looking for the perfect solution. As he remarked in a 1943 address to mark the 101st birthday celebrations of Mahadev Govind Ranade, all he wanted was “a settlement of some sort”; that he was not “prepared to wait for an ideal settlement”. 
  • It is very much in this spirit that he affixed his signature to the Poona Pact saving Gandhi’s life as well as that of the Congress Party’s while giving a big voice to the depressed classes.

Conclusion:

  • On the 129th year of his birth on April 14 this year, we would do well to remember Ambedkar as much for the Poona Pact as we do for the Constitution he helped conjure. Without the former, the latter would never have been.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 14 April 2020 (Google, pay : on re-use of news content(The Hindu))



Google, pay: on re-use of news content(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International 
Prelims level:Google 
Mains level:Paying for reusing news content 

Context:

  • Last week’s ruling by France’s competition regulator that Google must pay news publishers and agencies for re-use of their content marks a significant turn in what has been a see-saw battle between European regulators and publishers on the one hand and the tech giant on the other. 
  • How this ends and what this leads to could set the template for not just the news industry in France and Europe but also the rest of the world. For the time being, the ruling gives the beleaguered news industry in France a rare edge in its dealings with the tech giant. 

Plight of new publishers:

  • Over the last two decades, even as publishers across the world struggled to make a commercially meaningful transition to the digital world, Google became the primary gateway for readers. 
  • While this worked well for the readers and for Google, which as a result could build a mammoth advertising business, it never worked well enough for news publishers, notwithstanding the increase in traffic they experienced. 
  • Many publishers are, hence, now in a position where they can neither let go of their dependence on the tech giant nor make monetary sense from this arrangement. 
  • Also, individually, they are too small to challenge Google’s might. It is by recognising the skewed nature of this copyright marketplace that the European legislators amended rules in April last year — something which France then gave force to in July.

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Genesis of the order:

  • The genesis of the order by the French competition regulator was a complaint filed against Google by unions representing publishers. 
  • They charged Google with abusing its dominant position in response to the law, which seeks to create fairer grounds of negotiation. This it does by allowing for the possibility of publishers to be paid for article extracts picked up by aggregators. 
  • The complaint was that Google, on the grounds of complying with the new law, decided it would not display the extracts and other elements unless publishers authorise free usage. 
  • The regulator said it found that Google’s practices “were likely to constitute an abuse of a dominant position, and caused serious and immediate harm to the press sector.” It could be argued that the French case will do little to shake up the existing framework. 

Conclusion:

  • Previous legislative attempts by other European Union constituents, such as Germany and Spain, to allow for such extracts to be monetised by publishers have proved counterproductive. For instance, Google ended up shutting down its news service in Spain. 
  • But the French attempt promises to end differently. That is because, built in in the regulator’s order is a requirement that negotiations “effectively result in a proposal for remuneration from Google.” Where will this go from here? Publishers across the world will be watching.
  • The French template for the search engine paying for reuse of news holds promise.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 14 April 2020 (Sacking by subterfuge: on removal of AP top election official(The Hindu))



Sacking by subterfuge: on removal of AP top election official(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:State Election Commissioner
Mains level:Removal process of the State Election Commissioner

Context:

  • The legality of the removal of the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) is seriously in doubt. That it was the culmination of an open conflict between the Election Commissioner, N. Ramesh Kumar, and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy makes it a glaring instance of misuse of power. 
  • The State government got the Governor to issue an ordinance to cut the SEC’s tenure from five to three years, and amend the criterion for holding that office from being an officer of the rank of Principal Secretary and above to one who had served as a High Court judge. 

Use of ordinance:

  • This automatically rendered Mr. Kumar’s continuance invalid. Last month, just days before the local body polls were to be held, the SEC postponed the elections, citing the COVID-19 outbreak. The State government approached the Supreme Court, but the court declined to interfere. 
  • Having exhausted its legal remedy, the government should have waited for the ongoing fight against the disease to be over. Mr. Reddy’s allegation that the SEC, an appointee of his predecessor N. Chandrababu Naidu, postponed the polls to prevent a sweep by the YSR Congress may or may not be true. 

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Aparmita Prasad Singh vs. State of U.P. (2007):

  • The State government seems to have gone by legal opinion that cited Aparmita Prasad Singh vs. State of U.P. (2007) in which the Allahabad High Court ruled that cessation of tenure does not amount to removal, and upheld the State Election Commissioner’s term being cut short. 
  • The Supreme Court, while dismissing an appeal against the order, kept open the legal questions arising from the case. The judgment seems erroneous, as it gives a carte blanche to the State government to remove an inconvenient election authority by merely changing the tenure or retirement age. 
  • This was surely not what was envisioned by Parliament, which wrote into the Constitution provisions to safeguard the independence of the State Election Commission. It is a well-settled principle in law that what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. 
  • Therefore, the removal of an incumbent SEC through the subterfuge of changing the eligibility norms for appointment may not survive judicial scrutiny. 
  • Further, the Constitution, under Article 243K, prohibits the variation of any condition of service to the detriment of any incumbent. 

Conclusion:

  • Even if the State government argues that a change of tenure does not amount to varying the conditions of service, the new norm can only apply to the successor SEC, and not the one holding the office now.
  • Removal of A.P.’s top election official through ordinance route is a case of abuse of power.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 14 April 2020 (Trade in tatters: On the global slump(The Hindu))



Trade in tatters: On the global slump(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 3:Economy 
Prelims level:COVID-19 outbreak
Mains level:Comparison between global financial crisis 2008 with economic crisis due from COVID 19 pandemic

Context:

  • The only certainty right now in a pandemic-gripped world is the all-enveloping uncertainty. And the WTO acknowledged as much when it released its outlook for global trade last week. 

Caveat:

  • Projecting merchandise trade to plummet by anywhere between 13% and 32% in 2020, it added a categoric caveat: 
  • At the moment, it is only able to posit a wide range of possible trajectories for the predicted decline in trade given the unprecedented nature of the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the uncertainty around its precise economic impact. 
  • Economists at the WTO, however, appear more certain that the disruption and resultant blow to trade will in all likelihood be far worse than the slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008. 
  • As IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva observed on April 9, the global economy is set to contract sharply in 2020, with “the lockdown needed to fight” the pandemic affecting billions worldwide. 

Global supply chains:

  • The tight restrictions on movement and social distancing norms across geographies have led to severe curbs on labour supply, transport and travel and the shuttering of whole sectors from hotels and non-essential retail to tourism and significant parts of manufacturing. 
  • The WTO expects all regions, save Africa, West Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, to suffer double-digit declines in exports and imports this year even under its “optimistic scenario”, which postulates a recovery starting in the second half.

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Service sector:

  • Also, services trade — in which India has a higher global share as an exporter ($214 billion, or 3.5%, in 2019) than in merchandise exports — may be significantly affected by the transport and travel curbs. 
  • A small sliver of silver in this bleak outlook for services trade is the role that the WTO sees for information technology services as companies try to enable employees to work from home and people order essentials and drugs online and socialise remotely. 
  • India’s IT exporters have been busy supporting their overseas clients’ business continuity plans in the face of the pandemic and may find this hand-holding at a time of dire need earning them loyalty-linked business when economic activity revives. 

Conclusion:

  • Still, as the WTO chief, Roberto Azevêdo, crucially observes, a rebound in global economic activity will require trade to flow freely across borders as vitally as any fiscal or monetary stimulus. 
  • The world will be best served if nations do not turn insular and erect new barriers to the movement of goods, services and people in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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Table of Contents :

FOREWORD 
LIST OF MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS 

Chapter 1

  • THE STUDY OF INDIAN HISTORY

Chapter 2

  • ANCIENT INDIAN HISTORY WRITING
  • Indian Tradition of History Writing - Early Foreigners Christian Missionaries and Enlightenment-Imperialist Historiography - Nationalist Approach-Marxist School of History - Multi-Disciplinary Approach 

Chapter 3

  • THE SOURCES OF ANCIENT INDIAN HISTORY
  • Literary Sources-Foreign Accounts-Archaeological Sources-Archaeological, Monuments, Excavations and Explorations

Chapter 4

  • THE GEOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND OF INDIAN HISTORY 
  • The Himalayas-Indo-Gangetic-Brahmaputra Plain-The Deccan Plateau and Central India-Climate-The Geography of India as Described in Ancient Indian Literature-Influences of Geography on Indian History 

Chapter 5

  • THE STONE AGE CULTURES 
  • Introduction-Age of the Earth-Early Humans-Earliest Palaeolithic Tools-Palacolithic Cultures-Mesolithic Culture-Prehistoric Rock Art 

Chapter 6

  • THE NEOLITHIC AGE: THE BEGINNING OF SETTLED LIFE 

Chapter 7

  • THE CHALCOLITHIC CULTURES OP INDIA
  • Trade and Commerce-Religious Beliefs-Technology Copper Hoard Culture-OCP Culture 

Chapter 8

  • THE HARAPPAN CIVILIZATION
  • Town Planning Materials Used in Buildings-Types of Buildings-Public Buildings-Streets and Drains-Crafts and Industries-Trade and Commerce-Weights and Measures-Transport and Travel-Agriculture-ArtsScript-Religion-Social Stratification and Political SetupDisposal of the Dead-Chronology-Decline-Late Harappan Cultures

Chapter 9

  • THE VEDIC CIVILIZATION
  • The Vedas - The Brahmanas-Aranyakas and Upanishads Authorship of the Vedic Literature-Age of Rig Veda-Rig Vedic Geography-Rig Vedic States-Polity and Administration Society-Education-Food and DrinksEconomic Life-Religion and Philosophy-The Question of the Aryan Invasion-Harappan Civilization and the Rigveda

Chapter 10

  • THE LATER VEDIC AGE
  • Geography and the New Political States-Polity and Administration Social System-Economic Life-EducationReligion and Philosophy-Science and Technology 

Chapter 11

  • FRUITION OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY
  • aisesika-Nyay-Samkhya-Yoga-Mimamsa-Vedanta 

Chapter 12

  • THE EVOLUTION OF JANISM AND BUDDHISM
  • Jainism-Buddhism 

Chapter 13

  • MAHAJANAPADAS TO NANDAS
  • Mahajanapadas-The Rise of Magadha-Sisunaga-Nanda Dynasty-Foreign Invasions-Persian Conquest of Indian Borderland-Alexander's Campaign-Alexander's RetreatImpact of Alexander's 

Chapter 14

  • Campaign THE MAURYAS
  • Chandragupta Maurya-Bindusara-Ashoka-Kalinga War and Its Impact-Ashoka's Dhamma-Ashoka's Place in History-Decline of the Mauryan Empire-Polity and Administration-City Administration Society and Culture-Economy-Art and Architecture 

Chapter 15

  • THE AGE OF SUNGAS AND SATVAHANAS
  • The Meghavahanas of Kalinga-Some Tribal Republics Satavahanas of Deccan-The Epoch of Foreign InvadersThe Indo-Greeks-The Parthians-The Sakas-The Kushanas 

Chapter 16

  • THE EARLY HISTORY OF Sorts INDIA
  • The Megalithic Phase in South India-The Early History - Cholas-Pandyas-Cheras

Chapter 17

  • SOCIETY, ECONOMY AND CULTURE DURING THE SUNGAS AND THE SATVAHANAS 
  • Language and Literature-Sangam Literature Social Conditions-Family Life-Religions-Buddhism-JainismVedic Religion-Economic Condition-Art and Architecture Sculpture-Science and Technology-India and her relation with outside World 

Chapter 18

  • IND FROM THE GUPTAS TO HARSHA
  • Emergence of the Guptas-Samudragupta Chandragupta Il-Kumaragupta II-Skandagupta Decline of the Guptas-North India after the Guptas Harsha-Deccan and South India 

Chapter 19

  • SOCIETY, ECONOMY AND CULTURE FROM THE GUPTAS TO HARSHA
  • Polity and Administration
  • Language and Literature
  • Tamil Literature-Foreign
  • Accounts-Economic
  • Condition Religions-Buddhism-Jainism-Hinduism-Vaishnavism
  • Saivism-Art and Architecture-Sculptures-Paintings
  • Science and Technology-Astronomy-MedicineMetallurgy 

Chapter 20

  • INDIA AFTER HARSHA
  • Gurjara Pratiharas-Palas-RashtrakutasTripartite Struggle

Chapter 21

  • THE HISTORY OF KAMARUPA SOCIETY AND CULTURE IN THE POST HARSHA PERIOD 

Chapter 22

  • SOCIETY AND CULTURE IN THE POST HARSHA PERIOD 
  • Language and Literature Society-Economic Life-Religion and Philosophy-Education-Art and Architecture 

Chapter 23

  • CULTURAL INTERACTIONS WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SOUTH EAST ASIA
  • Central Asia and China-Sri Lanka-Mayanmar-South East Asia-Art and Architecture

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Table of Contents :

FOREWORD
PREFACE

Introduction

  • The Study of Indian History

Chapter One

  • Early Man 

Chapter Two

  • Man Takes to City Life 

Chapter Three

  • Life in the Vedic Age 

Chapter Four

  • Rise of The Kingdom of Magadha 

Chapter Five

  • The Mauryan Empire 

Chapter Six

  • India After The Mauyas 

Chapter Seven

  • The Age of the Guptas 

Chapter Eight

  • The Age of Smaller Kingdoms 

Chapter Nine

  • India and The World 
  • Important Dates 
  • Important Personalities 
  • Glossary and Vocabulary 
  • A Chart on Comparative Chronology

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Table of Contents :

Foreword 

CHAPTER ONE 

  • India and the World

CHAPTER TWO

  • Kingdoms of the South (A.D. 800-1200)

CHAPTER THREE

  • Kingdoms of the North (A.D. 800-1200)

CHAPTER FOUR

  •  The Delhi Sultanate

CHAPTER FIVE

  • The Life of the People

CHAPTER SIX

  • The Coming of the Mughals and the Europeans 

CHAPTER SEVEN

  • Akbar

CHAPTER EIGHT

  • The Age of Magnificence

CHAPTER NINE

  • The Fall of the Mughal Empire 115

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 April 2020 (Cease fire: On India-Pakistan border tensions (The hindu))



Cease fire: On India-Pakistan border tensions (The hindu)



Mains Paper 3:Security 
Prelims level:Cease fire
Mains level:Security challenges and their management in border areas

Context:

  • The latest exchange of long-range artillery fire between the Indian and Pakistani armies in Poonch and Kupwara’s Rawthpora, Panzgam, Malikpora, Hafrada and Ferkiyan areas is yet another unhappy reminder that both countries have not been able to uphold a ceasefire along the border areas and the Line of Control. 

Violations of ceasefire:

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claimed just two months ago that “all violations of ceasefire are taken up with Pakistan authorities at the appropriate level through the established mechanism of hotlines, flag meetings as well as weekly talks between the Directorate Generals of Military Operations of the two countries”. 
  • But here are the figures revealed by him this February: 3,479 violations for 2019, which works out to almost 10 every day. 
  • Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Defence, provided the figures from January 1 to February 23; for 54 days, it was 646, which means an average of almost 12. 
  • If anything, there has been an upward tick since Article 370 was hollowed out on August 5 last year, and statehood taken away from Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • Pakistan also has similar and competing figures for Indian ceasefire violations while prefacing explanations for its own firing with the stock phrases: “retaliatory, effective, befitting”. 

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Bearing the brunt:

  • Those who bear the brunt — the loss of lives, livelihood, infrastructure, and the displacement — unfortunately live along the LoC on both sides, some 740 km, and the 221 km of the IB in Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • In the latest instance, scores scrambled out of the range of the heavy artillery guns to seek refuge, not in government quarantine shelters, but with relatives in the district headquarters and elsewhere. Thrown to the wind in the process were protocols to protect against COVID-19. 
  • In this instance, the Army blames Pakistan for initiating the shelling in Kupwara’s Keran sector to facilitate infiltration which seems to have picked up pace as have operations against terrorists. 
  • Indeed, last week saw a chase through heavy snow drifts, leading to a macabre hand-to-hand combat with terrorists who had infiltrated through the remote, nearly unpopulated, snowed-in mountainous region. 
  • That as many as five highly trained para commmandos should have lost their lives in exchange for the lives of five infiltrators is unfortunate and unacceptable. Infiltrations at this time and in such remote areas are regular enough to be predictable. 

Conclusion:

  • Ceasefire violations on the border speak poorly of the preventive mechanisms in place.
  • Wherever possible, exercising the option of precise, surgical, preventive action against such infiltration, to minimise collateral damage, through better use of technology, such as drones, might be preferable.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 April 2020 (COVID-19 and the crumbling world order(The hindu))



COVID-19 and the crumbling world order(The hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International 
Prelims level:Hyperglobalisation
Mains level:Globalisation and its impact on economic growth

Context:

  • COVID-19 will fundamentally transform the world as we know it: the world order, its balance of power, traditional conceptions of national security, and the future of globalisation. 
  • The lethal combination of an interconnected world and a deadly virus without a cure is taking humanity into uncharted waters. When we emerge from the lockdown, we must be ready to confront new political and social realities.

Crumbling world order:

  • The rampant spread of COVID-19 is also a failure of the contemporary world order and its institutions. 
  • The contemporary global order, whatever remains of the institutions created by the victors of World War II, was a hegemonic exercise meant to deal with isolated political and military crises and not serve humanity at large. 
  • COVID-19 has exposed this as well as the worst nativist tendencies of the global leadership in the face of a major crisis. That the United Nations Security Council took so long to meet (that too inconclusively) to discuss the pandemic is a ringing testimony to the UN’s insignificance.

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Regional institutions:

  • Regional institutions haven’t fared any better. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s SAARC initiative, curiously resurrecting a practically dead institution, was short-lived. 
  • The EU, the most progressive post-national regional arrangement, stood clueless when the virus spread like wildfire in Europe. Its member states turned inward for solutions: self-help, not regional coordination, was their first instinct. Brussels is the loser.
  • All this is indicative of a deeper malaise: the global institutional framework is unrepresentative, a pawn in the hands of the great powers, cash-strapped, and its agenda is focused on high-table security issues. 
  • The global institutional architecture of the 1940s cannot help humanity face the challenges of the 2020s. Nothing less than a new social contract between states and the international system can save our future.

CHINA:

  • One country that is likely to come out stronger from this crisis is China. Reports indicate that China has now managed the outbreak of COVID-19, and its industrial production is recovering even as that of every other country is taking a hit. 
  • The oil price slump will make its recovery even faster. When the greatest military power found itself in denial mode and the members of the EU were looking after their own interests, China appeared to use its manufacturing power to its geopolitical advantage. 
  • Beijing has offered medical aid and expertise to those in need; it has increased cooperation with its arch-rival Japan; and President Xi Jinping spoke to the UN Secretary General on how the international community can fight the virus. 
  • Its richest man, Jack Ma, has spearheaded the private sector’s fight against COVID-19. The Chinese propaganda machinery will magnify this. Chinese actions are a smart economic investment for geopolitical gains. 

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Neoliberal economic globalisation:

  • Neoliberal economic globalisation will have taken a major beating in the wake of the pandemic. Economists are warning of a global recession. Even as the virus is pushing back the ‘successes’ of neoliberal globalisation, globalisation’s political counterpart is found wanting in dealing with the situation. 
  • The first instinct of every major economy was to close borders, look inwards and localise. The pre-existing structural weakness of the global order and the COVID-19 shock will further feed states’ protectionist tendencies fueled by hypernationalism. 
  • A more inclusive global political and economic order is unlikely any time soon, if ever. Instead, as former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon warns, “we are headed for a poorer, meaner, and smaller world.”
  • The ability of big corporations to dictate the production, stocks, supply chains and backup plans will be limited by increased state intervention to avoid unpredictable supply sources, avoid geopolitically sensitive zones, and national demands for emergency reserves. 
  • The profits of big corporations will reduce, and the demand for stability will increase.

Retreat from Hyperglobalisation:

  • Some would gladly argue all this could potentially mean a retreat from hyperglobalisation and its attendant flaws. However, the assumption that COVID-19 will bring about a more balanced and inclusive form of economic and political globalisation is perhaps misplaced. 
  • State intervention in economic matters and protectionism are the easy way out, and that’s precisely what states will do once the crisis is over. It would be return of the ‘Licence Raj’ through the backdoor, not a push for inclusive and responsible globalisation with its associated political benefits.
  • The state has failed in its inability to save us from the pandemic notwithstanding its tall claims about national security preparedness. And yet, the state has returned, with more power, legitimacy and surveillance technologies. 
  • In fact, the nervous citizenry will want the state to be omnipresent and omnipotent, no matter the consequences. The state, which was losing its influence to global economic forces, will return as the last refuge of the people in the coming age of mass disruption.
  • With the severe beating that globalisation has taken, state-led models of globalisation and economic development would be preferred over (big) corporates-led globalisation. Will this enable some positive controls over the inherent deficiencies of globalisation? 
  • We will have to wait and see. But the more important question is whether the state has any incentive to take on big capital. 

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New-Age Racism:

  • Yet another undesirable outcome of the pandemic would be a spike in various forms of discrimination. Globally, societies could become more self-seeking and inward-looking leading to further pushback against liberal policies regarding migration and refugees. 
  • New questions are likely to be asked about the source of goods. More stringent imposition of phytosanitary measures by advanced states on products emanating from the less developed countries might become the new normal. 
  • Lockdowns and travel restrictions could potentially legitimise the rhetoric around border walls in more conservative countries. Tragically, therefore, while one answer to global pandemics is political globalisation, COVID-19 might further limit it.

Conclusion:

  • Within India too, there could be a trend towards discrimination, with ‘social distancing’ producing undesirable social practices. That a Manipuri woman was spat on in Delhi by a man who called her “coronavirus”, and gated communities have discriminated against those in COVID-19 quarantine, indicate a new age of discrimination. 
  • Puritan claims based on birth and class and the associated declarations about hygiene could become sharper. The more the virus persists, the deeper such practices would get. We already know what these practices feel like; it can only get worse from here.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 April 2020 (Women’s safety during lockdown (The hindu))



Women’s safety during lockdown (The hindu)



Mains Paper 1:Society 
Prelims level:Domestic violence
Mains level:Reasons behind the rise of domestic violence

Context:

  • It is well-documented that during a war, a natural disaster or a pandemic, women’s bodies bear the worse brunt of the crisis. Domestic violence against women is already widespread and under-reported in India. 
  • Now, at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations recognises domestic violence against women as a “shadow pandemic”. 

Spike in domestic violence:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a huge spike in domestic violence against women in China, Australia, France, the U.K., Spain, and Bangladesh, among others. 
  • In India, too, the National Commission for Women has reported a large increase in distress calls from victims of domestic violence since the pandemic broke out.

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Home, not safe for many:

  • The national strategy against COVID -19 emphasises that home is the safest place to be. Ironically, for domestic violence victims, home is the most unsafe place to be quarantined as they are forced to live with their abusers. 
  • Although asking people to stay at home is an effective and welcome anti-COVID-19 strategy, home is not the safe haven it should be for many women because abusers have increased access to their victims and survivors have decreased or no access to resources.
  • Domestic violence can be verbal, financial, psychological and sexual. It includes the abuser withholding financial or medical assistance. Women are most often the caregivers for those quarantined at home and already infected with the virus, which makes them more vulnerable to contracting the disease.

Inequities of power and control:

  • Domestic violence is rooted in the inequities of power and control. The abusers feel an enormous loss of power and control over their own lives due to the pandemic. They vent their frustration on the women in the house. 
  • Mental health issues arise out of isolation as well as reactive depression, but instead of recognising these issues and seeking help, people become violent.
  • The victims are not only unable to speak out because they are quarantined at home with the perpetrators, but also because the lockdown prevents them from seeking help outside. 
  • In Spain and France, women can go to a pharmacy and request a “Mask 19” — a code word that will alert the pharmacist to contact the authorities.
  • Tragically, traditional forms of support are now not available to domestic violence victims. They don’t go to their parental homes for fear of infecting elderly parents. Shelter homes are crowded and so they are vulnerable to greater infection there. 

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Protecting victims:

  • Nevertheless, it is vital for policymakers to address the needs of these women who are playing an indispensable role on the front line in the war against COVID-19 — as health workers, sanitation staff, caregivers, scientists, and as long-suffering housewives. 
  • Priority measures to help domestic violence victims, without detracting from the overall anti-COVID-19 strategy of lockdown, should be initiated by the government, and steps to protect victims of domestic violence be made a part of overall anti-COVID-19 action plans.

Way forward:

  • UN Women has said that “helplines, psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted, using technology-based solutions such as SMS, online tools and networks to expand social support, and to reach women with no access to phones or Internet.” 
  • Other priorities include a more responsive police force, and other government agencies who are not dismissive of domestic violence complaints. 
  • Social media posts mocking and patronising angry or “suffering” men in isolation who are helping in housework should be reported and acted upon. 
  • The electronic media can raise awareness in regional language infomercials, since domestic violence is a crime under the Indian Penal Code. 
  • SOS messaging to police already exists in several cities, but this should be enhanced with geolocation facilities.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 April 2020 (Lives and livelihoods : On economy after lockdown (The hindu))



Lives and livelihoods : On economy after lockdown (The hindu)



Mains Paper 3:Economy 
Prelims level:Not much
Mains level:Measures taken to protect livelihoods during lockdown period

Context:

  • The government is in the process of applying its mind on whether it should extend or lift in phases the 21-day lockdown that ends next week. 
  • The choice for Prime Minister Narendra Modi now, as when he decided to impose the lockdown on March 24, is the same — between saving lives and ensuring livelihoods. 

Impact on economy:

  • India nears the end of the lockdown period, the serious damage to the economy and livelihoods is beginning to make itself apparent. 
  • There is tremendous pressure from industry bodies to opt for a nuanced policy that will help economic activity to restart as they fear a collapse if activity is stopped for another fortnight. 
  • Lives could be lost to hunger and livelihoods sacrificed in the lockdown. 
  • One way to sidestep this existential dilemma is by bringing on a second round of an economic relief package that goes well beyond the first both in terms of the financial commitment and the spread. 
  • Out-of-the-box ideas for delivering support and also for raising the required funds might be required. 

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More relief required: 

  • The ₹1.7-lakh crore package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26 was a good start but barely accounted for 1% of GDP. 
  • India should spend at least 5% of GDP for now — about ₹10-lakh crore. 
  • The cash transfers to the poor should be hiked to at least ₹3,000 a month for the next three months. 
  • This should be in addition to free rations and cooking gas, as was announced earlier. 
  • In the harvest season, farmers need logistical support for moving their produce to markets. 
  • Lenders, including NBFCs, should be granted freedom to reschedule their loan accounts so that borrowers are not under pressure to repay for fear of turning delinquent. 
  • A credit guarantee fund that will support non-delinquent borrowers for the next six months will be a good option. 
  • Such a fund can be financed through a domestic bond offering. The bankruptcy code should be suspended for the next six months, at least for MSMEs. 

Way ahead: 

  • The loss of revenue will be ₹3-lakh crore at worst, but in reality will be much lower than that because economic activity is at a standstill now. 
  • Such a move will ease cash flows for business and also obviate the need for statutory compliances at a time when the focus will have to be on getting businesses back on track. 

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 April 2020 (Stage fright: On denying community transmission(The hindu))



Stage fright: On denying community transmission(The hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Health 
Prelims level:Severe acute respiratory
Mains level:Severe acute respiratory infections study highlights

Context:

  • Even after denying community transmission by the India’s national taskforce for COVID-19, the Health Ministry on March 28 acknowledged on its website that there was “limited community transmission”.

Severe acute respiratory infections study highlights: 

  • A paper in the Indian Journal of Medical Research,by ICMR and Health Ministry researchers, provides evidence of community transmission in 36 districts in 15 States. 
  • The study is based on sentinel surveillance undertaken by the task force among severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) patients who have been hospitalised in public sector institutions to identify the spread and the extent of transmission of COVID-19 disease in the community. 
  • If there were 1.9% (two of 106) SARI cases positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus by the end of March third week, the number increased to 104 by April 2. 
  • Of the 102 coronavirus positive SARI cases tested between March 22 and April 2, 40 (39%) had no travel history or contact with a positive case.
  • Data on exposure were not available for 59 (58%) cases. 

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Impact of community transmission on testing strategy: 

  • The authors point out that antibody-based testing carried out in those testing negative for molecular test could have helped identify more positive cases.
  • With community transmission, or the third stage, now being confirmed in 36 districts, an expansion and change in testing strategy has become imperative in the high focus areas for the lockdown to be more meaningful. 
  • Though the taskforce has not openly declared community transmission, it is reassuring to note that the ICMR has already initiated changes in the testing strategy in response to the change in the pattern of community spread. 
  • On April 9, the ICMR revised the testing strategy for hotspots/clusters and large migration gatherings/evacuees centres. 
  • While the criteria for testing across India remain the same, the testing norms for the high focus areas will now include people with influenza-like illness (ILI) with certain symptoms. 
  • Antibody testing should be carried out whenever molecular tests on these patients turn out negative. It is important to include antibody testing along with molecular testing when necessary in the high focus areas. 

Way forward:

  • Together with containment measures, this approach will help in snapping the transmission chain. 
  • Syndromic surveillance of all SARI and ILI patients along with quick and effective tracing, quarantining and testing of their contacts should be the way forward now. 
  • How well India responds now will determine whether the spread is contained quickly or leads to more cases and deaths.

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(E-Book) YOJANA MAGAZINE HINDI PDF - APR 2020 (HINDI)

 (E-Book) YOJANA MAGAZINE PDF - APR 2020 (HINDI)

  • Medium: Hindi
  • E-BOOK NAME : YOJANA MAGAZINE PDF -APR 2020
  • Total Pages: 58
  • PRICE: 49/- FREE/- (only for few days)
  • Hosting Charges: NIL
  • File Type: PDF File Download Link via Email

Content Table:

  • मानवाधिकारों का संरक्षण (जयदीप गोविंद)
  • मौलिक अधिकारों और कर्तव्यों में संतुलन (डॉ रणवीर सिंह, डॉ ऋतु गुप्ता)
  • मौलिक कर्तव्यों का उद्देश्य (अनुभव कुमार)
  • भारत के संविधान का प्रारूपण (डॉ आर एस बावा)
  • अदालतो निर्णयों में संवैधानिक सुधार पहला संविधान संशोधन (एन एल राजा)
  • भारतीय संसद कार्यनिष्पादन और चुनौतियां (एम आर माधवन)
  • संविधान सभा और संविधान का निर्माण
  • भारतीय संविधानवाद और शासकीय अंगों के बीच संतुलन (एस एन त्रिपाठी, सी सी रेड्डी)
  • विदेश संबंध और भारतीय संविधान (मनोज कुमार सिन्हा)
  • महिला अधिकार : चिंतन, प्रतिबद्धता और कार्रवाई (डॉ के श्यामला)
  • एक जीवंत दस्तावेज (महिमा सिंह)
  • पंचायती राज व्यवस्था (डॉ चन्द्रशेखर प्राण)
  • लोकतंत्र का चौथा स्तम्भ (जगदीश उपासने)

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